Anti-Inflammatory Effect of Spirulina platensis in Macrophages Is Beneficial for Adipocyte Differentiation and Maturation by Inhibiting Nuclear Factor-κB Pathway in 3T3-L1 Adipocytes

J Med Food. 2016 Jun;19(6):535-42. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2015.0156. Epub 2016 May 20.


We previously showed that the organic extract of a blue-green alga, Spirulina platensis (SPE), had potent anti-inflammatory effects in macrophages. As the interplay between macrophages and adipocytes is critical for adipocyte functions, we investigated the contribution of the anti-inflammatory effects of SPE in macrophages to adipogenesis/lipogenesis in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. 3T3-L1 preadipocytes were treated with 10% conditioned medium from lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated RAW 264.7 macrophages (CMC) or LPS-stimulated, but SPE-pretreated, macrophages (CMS) at different stages of adipocyte differentiation. The expression of adipocyte differentiation markers, such as CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein α, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ, and perilipin, was significantly repressed by CMC when added on day 3, while the repression was attenuated by CMS. Oil Red O staining confirmed that adipocyte maturation in CMS-treated cells, but not in CMC-treated cells, was equivalent to that of control cells. Nuclear translocation of nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) p65 was decreased by CMS compared to CMC. In lipid-laden adipocytes, CMC promoted the loss of lipid droplets, while CMS had minimal effects. Histone deacetylase 9 mRNA and protein levels were increased during adipocyte maturation, which were decreased by CMC. In conclusion, by cross-talking with adipocytes, the anti-inflammatory effects of SPE in macrophages promoted adipocyte differentiation/maturation, at least in part, by repressing the activation of NF-κB inflammatory pathways, which otherwise can be compromised in inflammatory conditions.

Keywords: Spirulina platensis; adipocyte differentiation; blue-green algae; inflammation; macrophages.

MeSH terms

  • 3T3-L1 Cells
  • Adipocytes / cytology
  • Adipocytes / drug effects*
  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Adipogenesis / drug effects*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • CCAAT-Enhancer-Binding Protein-alpha / genetics
  • CCAAT-Enhancer-Binding Protein-alpha / metabolism
  • Macrophages / drug effects*
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Mice
  • NF-kappa B / genetics
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism*
  • PPAR gamma / genetics
  • PPAR gamma / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Spirulina / chemistry*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • CCAAT-Enhancer-Binding Protein-alpha
  • NF-kappa B
  • PPAR gamma